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Size Zero: Wikipedia Looks To Telcos & Handset Co’s For Free Mobile Access

The digital version of Size Zero: next to nothing cost of Internet access for the user, and all the major Internet sites are vying for telecom operator deals to enable it. Facebook has it, Twitter is almost there, but the latest to queue up for Size Zero is Wikipedia.

The community driven site that wants to make knowledge available freely wants access to knowledge to be free as well, and that isn’t such a bad thing, particularly in India, given that we need more and more people from India to contribute and make the same information on Wikipedia available in Indic languages as well. In a note, Amit Kapoor, Senior Manager, Mobile Partnerships at Wikimedia writes that for mobile partnerships, they’re beginning with an India and East Asia focus in Q4 of this year. This is probably to also coincide with the WikiConference in Mumbai, and the India Catalyst plan.

On the desktop, many readers discovered Wikipedia through search, but on mobile, sessions and queries originate differently. With this in mind, we need the help of partners – namely mobile operators and handset manufacturers – to help ensure the distribution of knowledge.  This is why we’re setting out with a global mobile partnership program.” Wikipedia Zero will be a mobile site optimized for slower connections and not just smart phones. It is also looking for partnerships for enabling SMS and USSD based access, and interestingly, Kapoor writes that they want it to be accessible even those without a data plan.

What Drives Size Zero for Telcos?

So, tell us this – what really drives telecom operator Size Zero partnerships? Is Wikipedia cool enough to put into a marketing campaign like Twitter and Facebook are, and is that all that is there to it? Or is it about giving a few sites for free (you know we have concerns around neutrality of access there), and hope that the users start surfing other sites for free?

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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